Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Top 5 Signs You've Had TOO Much Coffee

  1. You’re eyes feel like they might pop out of your head, you are THAT awake!
  2. Every time you sit down to check email or Facebook you start twitching and can’t type a coherent sentence.
  3.  The Folger’s commercial song won’t stop going in circles in your head, even though the last time you saw it was some time yesterday (The best part of Waking up…. )
  4.  You’re very active child is looking at YOU like YOU’VE lost your mind, as you zoom past her for the 4th time in 10 minutes looking for the ringing phone.
  5. Even though there’s no one home but you and your non-verbal child you can’t stop talking to EVERYBODY!
     * I know, I've been on hiatus and pop back in with something silly. There's been a bit of STUFF going on in my life lately and if you're my friend on Facebook you probably already know ALL about it. I promise I will be back to finish all of Liza's One Year Ago.... posts and to hopefully keep up-to-date a little better :)

Friday, October 14, 2011

Fundraiser Friday: FacePie

No, I didn't mean to type FaceBook.

FacePie: Pie specifically made or bought for the sole purpose of being smashed into some crazy orphan lovin' individual's face.

Um, ok.... let me start over.

When we were in Ukraine adopting Liza I got the chance to play with this little guy a couple of times.
Don't you just LOVE that smile!
His name is Andriy and he has a family waiting for a travel date to go and meet him and start the process to bring him home. His Mama, Amanda, has been working her tail off to bring him home and part of the last fundraiser she's put together has included several people taking a pie to the face once Andriy's ransom reaches certain dollar amounts raised.

Renee went first. See....
Mmmm, coconut creme.... hehe

Then it was Gretchen's turn.
Pumpkin pie IS one of my favorites.... :D
And the fun doesn't stop there. Wanna guess who's next?

That's Catherine. She says she's hoping for a chocolate pie. I think chocolate pie sounds pretty good.

But, I have really been craving a Starbucks Salted Caramel coffee. So, for my pie I think I'm gonna try to find a recipe that will taste similar to that. Wish me luck!!

AND, go and donate $10 or more to see me get FacePied, or whatever you wanna call it. You'll also get a chance at an Ipad2, or a Nook, or a Kindle, or a couple other cool prizes. So, if I've ever ticked you off, got on your nerves, or made you wanna choke me - here's your chance. You can see me get pied, you don't even have to tell me that you helped make it happen, and you feel better about whatever it was I did. I know my kids wanna donate, and my mom, and.......

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

One Year Ago Today: Elizaveta Collette Lorenz

One of the only pics I have of her as a baby.
On this day last year we went to court and a Ukrainian judge officially made us the parents of Elizaveta K and changed her name to Elizaveta Collette Lorenz. We still had the 10 day wait to get through but as of 10/12/10 we were Elizaveta's parents. One of the best and most exciting days of my life. Pretty much the same feeling as when I gave birth to my boys.

Liza has a family
Going to court in Ukraine was one of the most nerve-wracking parts of the whole adoption process. I was so scared that we would stand in front of the judge and she would say, "No way! You can't possible think I'm going to let YOU parent this child." But, she didn't do that. Thank God and Yulia, our facilitator, who worked hard to get us to that point and helped us to stay calm for court.

Yulia and Liza. I'm so glad I took this picture of them.

The judge did have some reservations about Liza growing up with two teenage brothers. According to her, "All teenagers are mean." She wanted to know how we would keep her brothers from making fun of her or mistreating her and I tried to assure her that my boys were not that way, but she just didn't seem to believe it. I'm thinking she dealt with too many juvenile cases in her courtroom. I wish she could see Liza with her brothers now. She lights up when we pick them up from school. Loves to wrestle with them on the floor. "Sings" silly songs that Noah teaches her and  is the only one that can bring Austin out of a "teenage mood".

He's so mean. Can't you tell? lol
I think they like each other. Whaddaya think?
In the end I guess the judge decided having a family with teenage brothers was better than not having a family at all and granted us a little Promise and Victory. Elizaveta = God's Promise and Collette = Victory.

The greatest gift we brought home from Ukraine.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

One Year Ago Today: Meeting My Dream

The very first picture I took of her.
Can you see the fear in those eyes? Poor baby :(
Early morning on Tuesday October 5, 2010 we rolled into Krivoy Rog on the overnight train from Kiev. I didn't sleep that ENTIRE night on that darn train. I'm sure it was just because I knew the next day I was going to finally meet the little girl from my dream for the first time. I was once again excited/nervous all at the same time. I did write a post last year, but it was a few days late due to computer and internet issues and I did leave a few things out.

This year, after being her mom for a year, I'm not afraid to say what I was afraid to say last year.

When we first met Liza they had taken her from her groupa, put her hair up and dressed her in pink, and had her playing with toys she probably didn't get to play with that often. We walked into the room and I was just immediately in awe that she was actually there in front of me. I remember having my camera ready, walking in and saying "There she is!" and then totally forgetting to take pics or video for a bit. But, after just enjoying watching her for a few minutes I caught her interaction with her baby doll. It's so nice to have this to look back on now.

Not long after she fed her baby, and herself, I went over and tried to get her to let me play. She wasn't really having it but the Speech Therapist, who you see in the video with her, encouraged her to let me and gave me a plastic spoon (like the ones you use for picnics). Liza decided she liked my spoon better, which she still does by the way, took it from me and started "feeding herself" with it. Next thing we all knew she had taken a bite out of the spoon and the ST was frantically trying to get the piece out of her mouth. She ended up having to pick her up, take her out of the room, and bring her back once the piece of spoon had been removed from her mouth. It was kind of funny then and looking back now I'm still laughing, although I should've known from that encounter just how stubborn my girl was. Too bad I didn't get THAT on video!

In the room with the Speech Therapist, who she was familiar with, we were just a couple people who talked funny and she wasn't too worried about us. Once they let us go down to the visitation room with her it was obvious to us that she didn't care for us. In fact, I see now that she was scared of us. My poor Girl.
She was making what we called her "hissing sound".
It was like she was trying to scare us away.
The only way she would allow me to hold her at first
Poor girl :(
Obviously these pictures don't look like the ones that you hope to see on adoption blogs and that's probably why I never got around to sharing them. But, it's good to see that things don't always go picture perfect at first. For us, it took a little time for her to warm up, but she did and we knew that it might be that way because those who'd adopted before us weren't afraid to be honest about the hard things.

I remember after visiting with Liza for a while our facilitator, Yulia, coming in and asking us for our decision. We just looked at her cause we didn't know what she meant, and she said, "Do you want her? If you do I have to start the paperwork?" We just laughed and I said, "Yes! We want her!" I can honestly say that is one of the best decisions I've ever made.

After we visited with Liza that morning we left to get some lunch, do a little more paperwork, and do some grocery shopping for our stay in Krivoy Rog. We spent some time talking about how our morning went and I remember at one point Rick and I talked about Liza and how she met our expectations. I was honest and admitted that I was a little worried that she would never bond with us and I think I even mentioned the fear of institutional autism. I see now that she was scared to death of us and I was overwhelmed with all that we'd already gone through and was tired from not having slept the night before. Our evening visit was like a gift from God telling me not to worry. There was no night and day change, but things were better and maybe my perspective had changed a bit.

See for your self:
She let me play in her favorite toy with her. She didn't even
wanna let other kids in there, but she let me :)
She decided she kinda liked him too.
She's a fast learner and she let us know it by learning the sign for "crazy" and doing it on demand. Well, she needed to know what she was getting herself into, didn't she? LOL

Yep, I'm a little crazy. She's a little stubborn. We actually make a pretty good pair. I'm so glad that we stuck it out through all the stress and all the scares. She has been worth every moment. 

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

One Year Ago Today: We Saw WHO in Kiev?!


Credit: Naum Furman, News 4
After all the excitement of losing Liza, learning about Sasha, and then winning Liza back we had a few days to just hang out in Kiev. During that time we had to move out of the first apartment we were in to an area of the city a little closer to Kreschatik Street. At one point we got stuck in a traffic jam and our driver, Yuri, said that it was because former US President, Bill Clinton, was giving a speech on AIDS/HIV prevention at a rally being held on Kreschatik. We thought that was pretty neat but that was about it.... at the time.

The next morning, knowing it was our last day in Kiev until we came back with Liza, we went out to walk around a bit more. We found a nice Coffee House, I think it was one actually called "Coffee House", and went in to sit and have - what else? Coffee!!

We sat at a table by a window, ordered our coffee, and talked about what else we wanted to see before we left for Krivoy Rog that night. I stopped after a bit and looked out the window and saw this pretty large entourage of people heading our way at the corner across from my window. In the middle of this entourage was a tall gentleman with a handsome head of grey hair. My eyes grew big and I said, "Is that President Clinton heading this way?!" Rick looked and said something like "no way." then "Yeah, I think it is..." and then he said, "Wouldn't it be something if he came in here to get coffee?"

And then that's exactly what happened! I remember Rick and I just looking at each other in disbelief. I mean, really! We LIVE an hour from DC and go there all the time and have never run into any famous Government folks or famous folks period. Then we fly half-way round the World and end up sitting at a table less than 10 feet from a former President and the husband of our current Secretary of State. Crazy, right?

Of course, we have NO proof of this because that was the ONE time I forgot to bring the camera and we were too nervous to actually go up to him and try and talk to him. Besides that one of his security folks came and stood right behind me! Talk about feeling nervous! I was like, "I'm probably the smallest, quietest person in this place but apparently this guy thinks I'm the biggest threat?!" There was no way I was making any moves to even try to approach Mr. President with Big Scary Security Guy at my back. Of course, he could've just chosen the spot behind my chair because it was in front of a pretty large window. Eh, who knows?

In hind sight I wish that I had plucked up the courage to go and try to speak with him. He seemed very friendly and approachable, quite a few young Ukrainians did go and speak with him. I wonder if we might have mentioned that we were there adopting, and that we had chosen to adopt a child with special needs. Maybe even mentioned Reece's Rainbow. Maybe a door might have even been opened to talk about the adoption of children with HIV and Project Hopeful, especially since President Clinton was in Kiev specifically to talk about HIV/AIDS.

Despite the fact that Rick and I both chickened out on our chance to talk to President Clinton I still think it was one of the coolest things to happen on our trip. Who knows? Maybe on one of our trips to DC we'll run into him again.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Sasha's Story

Almost exactly like the SDA photo.

Sweet, sweet Sasha. I am so glad that our lives got intertwined with hers. Even though I never met her and I was afraid I wouldn't love her like I loved Liza, somehow I developed a fondness for her after all. I remember asking Andrea if there was anyway that she could be added to Reece's Rainbow when we knew we would be going to KR for Liza. I felt responsible for her once I knew she was there and I was "leaving her behind".

After we came home I would find her picture on the Ukraine photolisting website and pray that a family would come for her. Eventually life took over and I never did know what became of her being added to Reece's Rainbow. Then one day we went to help another family in our area with a fundraiser and found out they were going to the region that Sasha was in. I asked her about any other children available in that region and she said that she didn't know of any that fir Sasha's age. When I got home later that day I checked the Ukraine site again and there she was. So, I emailed Andrea and asked her about Sasha and this is what she said:

"This little Sasha is our Josephine, she is being adopted by the Cutler family." 
Wow! What a difference :)
I was so happy to hear that news!!! Sasha has a family and will be going home to Texas just as soon as her Mama and Daddy can get to her. I can't wait to see photos of her with her family. Growing and changing even more. Learning what it means to be a sister, a daughter, and a cherished treasure. I am so glad Sasha's story didn't end that day we won Liza back, even though it looked like we had left Sasha behind. She was only waiting for the family that was really meant to be hers. The Cutler Family.

One Year Ago Today: Winning Liza

September 30,2010
(read the previous post first)
On the morning of September 30, 2010 Rick and I prepared to go to our SDA appointment. We had thought we would be going to get the referral of a little girl we had known as Liza K for almost 20 months. But the day before we had been told that she was unadoptable and there was almost no way that her status would be changed in order for us to adopt her in 2010. Sometime that morning, or maybe even the night before, we had decided that if we really had to give up on Liza we would come back for her as soon as she could be made adoptable by the courts. Serge had told us that a judge could do that but it would take about 6 months. I knew how to put together a dossier and get through immigration by this time and I figured the next time things would go a LOT faster!

When we got to the SDA office we prepared to go in - trying the whole time to keep a positive outlook. Eventually it was our turn and Serge went in with us. It was obvious that he was well liked and well known by the ladies in the office and that made us feel a little better. We didn't understand what was being said at first but the next thing I knew they had a folder out with our name on it and there were the CSPs I had sent months before. Then there was a picture of a little girl taken out of that folder and laid aside. It was "my" baby girl's paperwork being laid aside because of a paperwork error. It broke my heart and that's when I started to cry. We were told again that because of the paperwork issue Liza was not adoptable and we would need to choose another child, then Serge said something to the SDA lady and she brought out 3 more folders. Inside these were the little girls that fit our parameters. I only remember two of them and only because one was almost our daughter and the other was being mourned just a week later when news came that she had passed away. Her name was Anne-Marie.

I remember Serge kind of "helping" us to choose. He told us that one of the children had more needs than the others. Then when Rick showed interest in the little girl with the rosy cheeks and long hair Serge mentioned that she was in a region that he hadn't worked in before. One that they would like to get into because it would mean opportunities for more children to be known about and better chances for them to be adopted. We eventually chose the little one with the long hair and rosy cheeks. Serge told us that her name was Alexandra but she was called Sasha. Rick seemed to already be smitten, but I wasn't sure. I didn't think that I could love this little girl the way she deserved because my heart was so disappointed over the little girl I had loved for nearly two years. Serge had told us sometime during this whole procedure that we would have until about 5 or 6 THAT day only, for Liza's parents to be found and the paperwork to be fixed. Then we could get Liza's referral when we came back to pick up official referrals. Ok, whatever you say, but if it means there's still a chance for me to meet my dream face to face then okey doke!

We left the SDA trying to grow accustomed to the thought of traveling to a region we hadn't even heard of before that morning and, myself, trying to believe that I could give up my hopes for Liza to come home with us and fall in love with Sasha. I spent most of the day continuing to pray that Liza's parents would both be found in Krivoy Rog and making plans to return to Ukraine and adopt Liza in about 6 months if need be. I remember at lunch that day, where we were served pizza with peppers on it after asking for "pepperoni pizza", talking with the missionaries in KR who loved Liza and knew her personally and telling them that if we didn't get good news that day about Liza's parents we were planning to come back and adopt her in six months after bringing Sasha home. We would just have two little girls with Down syndrome to love!

Later that day after getting down again thinking about leaving Liza in Ukraine, even if it was only for another six months or however long it took to get her adoptable, I had the sudden thought that I should call Yulia. I knew that she was the facilitator who worked in Krivoy Rog for Serge's team almost exclusively and her number was already in our phone that the team had given us the day we had arrived. Hmmmm? Why hadn't I already thought of that?! So, I called Yulia and told her who I was and who we had come to adopt. She knew exactly what child I meant because Liza was one of her favorites from that orphanage and it had broken her heart to find out that she wasn' going to be able to be adopted. She had been busting her butt already looking for L's parents and was about to give up because, well, her boss told her we had chosen another child. Yep, Serge told her that we were giving up because we had chosen another child to adopt. Not that we wanted all options to be exhausted and then we were moving on, that we had given up. This did not make me happy.....

I still praise God to this day that I had that sudden urge to call Yulia. A woman I had never met and never spoken to. Never even exchanged so much as an email. Calling her wasn't an immediate end to our dilemma but it did set things back in motion. As soon as I told Yulia that we were not giving up until we had to she dove right back into the search and told me that she had already located Liza's dad and thought she might have a chance at funding mom too because as dad put it when told that mom had moved to Moscow, "That's sh**, she's right here in Krivoy Rog!"

I remember both of us crying at one point and Yulia saying that she was so glad that we weren't giving up. I also remember telling her that if it came to it we wanted to come back for Liza as soon as she WAS available for adoption. I remember her telling me that she would do everything she could for the next few hours that she had left in that day and would call me to let me know either way. I remember hanging up the phone with a renewed sense of hope that things would be alright. But, yet there was that picture of Sasha in the back of my mind. Because now, winning Liza meant Sasha losing her chance. 

Later that evening, a while after the time that I thought Yulia would call, she did. She called. I think you all know what her news was, right? She had found Liza's parents, they had signed all new paperwork that would allow Liza to be adopted, and everything was going to be ok after all. Except that now my heart knows of a little girl named Sasha in a region that Reece's Rainbow doesn't even work in who may never get another chance. 

Sasha's story isn't over yet, though. It's coming next.....

Friday, September 30, 2011

One Year Ago Yesterday: Losing Liza..... ??

September 29, 2010
September 29, 2010 was Austin's 14th birthday, but I was the one who got the surprise and it wasn't a good one. We'd been in Ukraine for one whole day and had recovered somewhat from our jetlagged tiredness. We'd decided to go out and explore Kiev and hoped to meet up with a few other families at TGIFs later that evening. Then we got a call.....

Serge called us as we were walking along Kreschatik Street and asked us if we would meet him at TGIFridays, he had some news for us. I KNEW it wasn't good. I just knew. But, Rick was sure that it was just to go over what our process would be like at the SDA the next day. I knew, from all the blogs I'd read and all the folks I knew who had been through the process before us that it wasn't typical to have a meeting with Serge before the SDA. I was right.

I remember getting to TGIFs and finding Serge, and then I remember seeing a bunch of faces I'd previously only seen online at a table in the corner. The families had decided to get together for lunch instead of dinner and we didn't know because we'd been out and internet wasn't working. I remember wondering if they knew something was wrong when we passed them and only said hello and went upstairs. I remember wondering if those who'd had their SDA appointments already had also had a meeting with Serge the day before, but I knew they hadn't. Something was not right. I remember wanting to hear what Serge had to say and get it over with but not wanting to know because I knew it wouldn't be good. It wasn't.

After 20 months of being in process to adopt Liza we were told that there was a problem with her paperwork and she wasn't adoptable. Apparently her parents had not signed the right papers when they abandoned her to the baby house. That meant that if her parents could not be found and/or weren't willing to sign new paperwork she would not be adoptable and we would need to choose another child to adopt. On top of that, her parents had divorced and rumor had it that her mom was living in Moscow. There was talk of having to fly her here IF she could even be found there. It looked bleak, very bleak. Serge was telling me not to cry and I just remember thinking, "I'm not gonna cry cause I am NOT giving up! Do you realize what I've already been through just to get HERE?!" I didn't say it out loud cause it seemed no one else thought there was any hope left. So, I let them think what they wanted - knowing the whole time that it wasn't over yet.

After that we went to Serge's apartment to look through the children still available on Reece's Rainbow that fit with the small parameters set by our Homestudy (it had been written specifically to adopt Liza) and Rick's age(he was already over 45). The child had to be a girl, had to be between the ages of 4 years 8 months and 5 years 11 months. I remember there being talk about possibly not adopting a child with Down syndrome, but another disability. I just knew that I had come to adopt a child with Down syndrome and if we did have to choose another child I was planning on that child also having DS. But, no one seemed to want my opinion or maybe I just wasn't in the mood to "shop" for another child so I just continued to keep my thoughts to myself.

After a while Serge had another appointment to get to so he drove us back to TGIFriday's and we walked back to our apartment. I remember later going out to find an internet cafe, since our computer wouldn't work, and looking at the little girls on RR trying to decide who would take Liza's place if it really came to that. That was so hard. How could we give up on Liza? But yet, it could be another little girls chance, and how could we not want that?

After that hard, hard day we went back to our apartment to get ready for our SDA appointment the next day. We must have talked to the kids at some point and wished Austin a happy birthday but I honestly don't remember that at all. I do remember knowing I wasn't going to be able to sleep and I was right. I spent most of the night laying in bed or pacing. But then I remembered a couple of verses that had gotten me through at other times that we had faced mountains and won. Psalm 60:12, Zephaniah 3:17, and Psalm 18: 2&3 got me through that night. After reading these verses over and over to myself out loud and praying I knew that no matter what happened the next day He was still ultimately in control and I was right in the middle of His plan.

September 30, 2010 coming soon.....

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Austin is 15!

Handsome devil, isn't he?
I can not believe it but my baby is 15 years old today! And as he keeps reminding me, he will be able to get his learner's permit in 9 months. Lord help me!

A little list of Austin. Austin is:
  • smarter than his mother - he's in 10th grade Governor's school and doing well
  • funnier than his mother - the wit, the sarcasm he says the funniest things out of nowhere sometimes
  • TALLER than his mother - I went to Ukraine and he was almost as tall AS me, I came back and he was taller. I cried....
  • A really great big brother to Liza and a good role model for Noah
Happy Birthday Austin! I love you so much. You're the one who who taught me what it meant to be a mom. To put someone else's needs, wants, and safety before my own. I'm really proud of the young man that you've become and I just know that great things are in your future. 

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

One Year Ago Today: We Are Here!

Last year on this day we had gotten to Ukraine and thought we'd be getting Liza's referral in a couple days and meeting up with a whole lot of other Reece's Rainbow families. We didn't know that the next day we would be facing the biggest mountain yet and our lives would intersect with a little girl, and later a family, that would eventually make the pain of those hours worth it.

That story comes next, but today is just a reminder of where we were on Sept. 28 2010. I was bored, jet-lagged, and a weird combination of nervous/anxious and curious/excited all at once. I'm pretty sure we did go out and explore the area we were staying in and maybe even had dinner with another family - I'm a little foggy on that now. We were determined to make the most of our adventure and I think we did.

Below is last year's post from today:

"And "here" would be the country that Liza lives in. We have our appointment to get her official referral on Thursday and I am really hoping we get to go to her region and meet her on Friday. This has been a long time coming and I am so ready to see her walk through those doors for the first time so I can actually lay eyes on my dream come true.

So far, things are not bad here and I think that's how they'll be. I am tired, hungry, and feeling a little lonely (cause Rick was sleeping - now getting up), but I think after I really get some good rest and some good food I will be ready to face this adventure with a big smile on my face. How can I not rejoice?! We are SO close!! Praise the Lord!"

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

One Year Ago Today: The Incident on the Way Over

On this day last year we left Virginia on a plane headed to Germany, where we then got on another plane that took us to Ukraine. I remember being nervous, worried that I had forgotten something important, and at the same time SO incredibly excited that in just a few days I would actually be meeting the dream I had held onto for almost 20 months. It was indescribable, really.

But, the plane ride was not really what I expected, at least the first one. I think that I envisioned it as a time to read and to catch up on sleep but something happend that made that not the case and if I hadn't been so tired and jet-lagged when we got to Ukraine I'm sure I would've blogged about it then. Since I didn't I'm going to try to remember it now.

I don't really remember boarding the plane but I remember finding my seat and getting into it. It was one of three in the middle of the plane and it was, of course the one in the middle. I remember hoping that a nice not so big person would sit beside me because I had Rick on one side and I didn't want to feel too claustrophobic. Well, I found the perfect saying to describe what happened next:

Things which you do not hope happen more frequently than things which you do hope.  ~Titus Maccius Plautus

So, of course, the  passenger that sat next to me was a rather tall, rather muscular guy who didn't seem so nice. Actually he seemed quite fidgety and bothered. I figured I would be ok, I'd just read my books, talk to Rick, watch a movie or two, sleep, it would all be fine. Then I heard my next door neighbor ask the flight attendant if he had time to go to the restroom and she told him no. He got even more fidgety and bothered and then used a few curse words and got even MORE fidgety and bothered. Then I smelled a smell that I remembered from potty training days and I thought, "No way!!" 

But, yes, it turns out Mr. FidgetyBothered had wet himself and I had to sit beside him all the way to Germany!

Honestly, I almost felt sorry for the guy because I could tell he didn't want anyone to know what had happened  and I just can't imagine how it did happen. Although, I suspect alcohol played a role because he smelled slightly of alcohol as well. 

So, needless to say, it was not a real comfortable flight. I tried not to get too close to Mr. FB because, well... you know. But, yet, I didn't want him to know I knew. I was also worried if I fell really asleep my head would roll over to his shoulder and that was not something I wanted to let happen. Sorry if that sounds mean, but it was a weird situation.

There you go, that's the story of the smelly guy that I alluded to at the end of my last OYAT post. I wonder what others would have done if they had been in my place. Would you have asked to move to another seat? Tried to show a little more compassion to Mr. FB? What would you have done if it was you?

Friday, September 16, 2011

Fundraiser Friday: A Lilla-Rose Giveaway/Fundraiser for Maxim

*Announcement - The winners of the giveaway are Eidmon and Megan. Please contact Linda and look thru her site to choose the clip you would like to receive. Congrats to you and thanks for playing!! :) *

Maybe it's not right for me to plug "my own" fundraiser on Fundraiser Friday, but technically it's not "my" fundraiser. It's for Maxim and Linda is the one providing the goodies - I just happen to be the one lucky enough to share it with you all. So, I'm making this my FF post for this week and that's all there is to it ;o) 


So, if you remember how this works, there was a winner drawn yesterday for last week's part of the fundraiser/giveaway. That winner is "Eidmon". So, Eidmon if you'll email Linda at mrsmenk at menk dot us or leave her a message on either her personal Facebook page or her Lilla-Rose page she will get you your free clip. Congrats!!


Ok, now for those of you who have not entered the giveaway yet, you still have time and there's a good chance you could be the winner of a free clip. It's SO easy. All you have to do is Like Linda's Lilla-Rose Facebook page and leave a comment here letting us know. Then you get extra entries for sharing on your blog, your Facebook page, or even twitter - then come back here again and leave us a comment letting us know. REALLY easy! And don't forget, 15% of all sales goes into Maxim's grant fund.


And can I beg? PLEASE, PLEASE do this! WE had hardly any interest this last week and it's broken both of our hearts, because we want to see M's grant fund grow and we'd love to see his face get seen by someone who might decide they love him so much they want to bring him home. So, share everywhere you can with everyone you know. Come on, I need something to make me smile - trust me.

A Lilla-Rose Giveaway/Fundraiser for Maxim

Remember him? You know I couldn't let you forget!
Just recently Reece's Rainbow has made it possible for the older children (6+) to have their own grant funds again. I was so excited about this for one main reason, and his name is Maxim. I plan to build his grant as high as I can so that when his mom and dad find him money won't be standing in their way. Thanks to a friend of mine I've been given my first opportunity to do that.

Linda Menke has recently started her own business with Lilla-Rose. They are the most beautiful hair clips I've seen in a while. I've already picked out this Celtic Knot clip for Liza. Linda has offered to donate 15% of all sales for the next two weeks to Maxim's grant fund. In addition to that she will be giving away one Lilla-Rose product each week by random drawing. To be entered into the giveaway see the bullet points below (cause, remember, I get confused).

  • For one entry go to Linda's Lilla-Rose Facebook page and "LIKE" it. Leave a comment here on my blog to help us confirm.
  • For another entry place an order of a product from Linda's Lilla-Rose website. Then leave a comment here. Remember 15% of all purchases will be donated to Maxim's grant fund.
  • Or go to Linda's website and choose your favorite piece and leave a comment here telling us what it is.
  • For one additional entry post to your own Facebook or Blog about this Fundraiser/Giveaway then come back here and comment with the link to your post.
Please make sure to leave a comment or comments HERE with every thing that you do that would  earn you an entry into the giveaway. Linda will be keeping track of the likes on her Facebook page and I'll be tracking comments and posts here, and we just don't want to miss anybody. Thanks!!

Forget Me Not Fridays

Monday, September 12, 2011

Father's House - Small Update

Remember not long ago I posted about Father's House? Well, they have a blog now and are working on a website. Shane has been working hard to raise the needed funds to keep the Home running. Right now they are in need of $2000 to buy firewood to heat the home. I'll copy what Shane wrote on the Father's House blog  here but to chip in to help using the chip-in box at the bottom of that post you'll have to click the link above. Thanks for giving and sharing!

Baby, It's cold outside!

“Do all the good you can,
By all the means you can,
In all the ways you can,
In all the places you can,
At all the times you can,
To all the people you can,
As long as ever you can.”

- John Wesley

Last year, we could no longer afford the $1500 a month for public heating, so we switched to heating with firewood. We asked God's people for help and they answered!

It is now that time again. We are in need of $2000 by the end of the month to purchase firewood to heat the orphanage through the winter. Would you prayerfully consider helping?

We are not a registered charity yet. If you'd like to give by check and receive a receipt for tax purposes, our missionary friends in the region have offered to receive donations on our behalf. Please email me for the information on how to do this. My name is Shane, or call (219)313-1424.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

One Year Ago Today: Making Memories

Old Glory Outside Nationals Park / Photo by Rachel Levitin
 Still loving Facebook's tendency to randomly remind me of what I was doing last year. I just wish they were a little easier to find. Today's reminder of last year brought back a memory I would have forgotten since I apparently left my camera at home that day. Here's what I shared on 9/11/10: "Decided @last minute to go to Nationals game. Perfect day: it's Heroes Day; weather's beautiful. A young Vet thru first pitch, got standing ovation."

We had gone to Maryland to visit Rick's oldest daughter and her husband and while there we decided to go watch the Nationals play. It turned out to be a nice time and we were glad we went. Not really because of the game itself, although that was fun, but because of how they recognized firefighters, police officers, and military personnel throughout the game. I was really glad to be able to share that with my kids before we left for almost 2 months to bring Liza into our family. A huge change, but one none of us would change if we had to.

After a day of remembering what happened on 9-11-01 it was nice to be able to remember a great day spent with the family. I don't ever expect or want to forget what happened on that day 10 years ago, but I'm still thankful for a sweet memory to end the day with.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Mom Rant

I just need some advice or encouragement or just to know that I'm not the only one. Or something. I can't really post on Facebook anymore cause the folks who attend the same institution that keeps making me rant this same old rant are tired of seeing it and they all think I'm asking for too much or I'm just "that mom". You know, the one who sees discrimination everywhere just because my child has an extra chromosome. So, I'm just gonna lay it all out here and see what kinda feedback I get.

Let's say you take your child to functions at this institute where babysitters have been hired, on the institutions dime, to watch the children of those who are attending said function. Yet every time you drop your child off you get the distinct feeling that they're not happy to see her and then when you go back to get her she's been separated to a different room. Sometimes with younger children, sometimes with older children, and sometimes alone. And, no matter where she's at, EVERY TIME it's obvious no one's really paying attention to her.

Or several times you go back for her and she's done #2 and no one's bothered to change her or to get you so that you could do it since they don't want to. Even when you bring a bag with all the essentials.

Or, even though there are babysitters hired by the institution for the function-goers children, you're other older children are asked to stay with your daughter (without pay) - either in the room with the other children and babysitters or in a separate room. Or you are expected to give a little more notice that "your child" will be there so that they could "prepare".

So, am I wrong to be angry? To think that there is some discrimination going on? Am I being "that mom"? Or am I right to feel like I do? To be tired of being told I'm expecting too much, when all I'm really expecting is for my child to be treated like all the other function-goers children?

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

A Lilla-Rose Giveaway/Fundraiser for Maxim

Remember him? You know I couldn't let you forget!

Just recently Reece's Rainbow has made it possible for the older children (6+) to have their own grant funds again. I was so excited about this for one main reason, and his name is Maxim. I plan to build his grant as high as I can so that when his mom and dad find him money won't be standing in their way. Thanks to a friend of mine I've been given my first opportunity to do that.

Linda Menke has recently started her own business with Lilla-Rose. They are the most beautiful hair clips I've seen in a while. I've already picked out this Celtic Knot clip for Liza. Linda has offered to donate 15% of all sales for the next two weeks to Maxim's grant fund. In addition to that she will be giving away one Lilla-Rose product each week by random drawing. To be entered into the giveaway see the bullet points below (cause, remember, I get confused).

  • For one entry go to Linda's Lilla-Rose Facebook page and "LIKE" it. Leave a comment here on my blog to help us confirm.
  • For another entry place an order of a product from Linda's Lilla-Rose website. Then leave a comment here. Remember 15% of all purchases will be donated to Maxim's grant fund.
  • Or go to Linda's website and choose your favorite piece and leave a comment here telling us what it is.
  • For one additional entry post to your own Facebook or Blog about this Fundraiser/Giveaway then come back here and comment with the link to your post.
Please make sure to leave a comment or comments HERE with every thing that you do that would  earn you an entry into the giveaway. Linda will be keeping track of the likes on her Facebook page and I'll be tracking comments and posts here, and we just don't want to miss anybody. Thanks!!

Friday, September 2, 2011

One Year Ago Today: A Special Date

*This was my post last year on this date. Little did I know then that there was going to be one more big mountain to fell. Praise God we did move that last mountain and now the most beautiful blessing to ever come out of Ukraine is sleeping beside me as I type this.* 

Nope, not the kind of date where Rickydoodle and I get all dolled up and go out on the town. Is it called "dolled up" if I'm talking about Ricky? Probably not... don't tell him I said that....

Anyway! This special date is September 30th 9AM. Not 9AM our time, it will actually be 2AM our time or 11PM on the 29th if you're on the West coast. But, don't worry about all that cause what really matters is that at.........................

9AM LIZA'S TIME on the 30th we will finally be getting the official referral from her country to adopt her!!! Hallelujah!

Woo hooo!!!!! How excited am I?! I want to pack right now and buy plane tickets, go over there and just camp out outside the offices where we get this referral. I don't know how I will make it the next 3 weeks until it's really time to go. I guess I'll have to find ways to stay bus. Oh, I can NOT wait to hold her!!

Isn't she a doll?! 
Liza: "Mom? You comin' yet?"

Me: "Yes! Baby girl I am ON MY WAY!!"

*So far these posts have probably been a little boring, but there was a lot of our trip last year that got left out. Like the guy who sat beside me on one of the flights and..... well, let's just say I was wishing for nose plugs. And the famous American and his "entourage" that walked into the coffee house we were sitting in in Kiev, the one day I left the camera in the apartment. And the little girl that almost became our daughter.*

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Conversations With Liza: I'm a Gorilla!

Anyone else watch Signing Time? Liza loves ST - she's mildly obsessed with it and I think she believes that Rachel is her best friend. Actually, there are days I feel like Rachel is my best friend. She's helped me get so much blogging housework done.

One of Liza's favorite's to watch is The Zoo Train. They play a fun little game where one of the children makes the animal sign and the other guesses what they are. For the past week Liza has been playing this game with me, except she's always a gorilla. I think she just likes it because you get to beat on your chest.

Ok, so all this week she's come up to me at random times and signed gorilla. At first I was just saying "gorilla" but then I started saying "Liza's a gorilla!" kinda like they do on Zoo Train and she loved it. Tonight she wanted to watch ST but The Brothers were watching Chuck and were not ready to share the TV and DVD player yet. So, she sat on my lap and was bing "my baby", this is what I tell her when she's being cuddly and puts her head on my shoulder. Then we had this conversation:

Liza: signs "gorilla"

Me: "Liza's a gorilla!"

Liza: (grins and then puts her head on my shoulder)

Me: "Aww, are you mama's baby?"

Liza: looks at me and signs "gorilla" again with a grin then puts her head back on my shoulder

Me: "Oh, you're Mama's baby gorilla?"

Liza: grins and shakes her head "yes"

I kinda like her being a baby gorilla, cause the other option is her being a baby dog - AKA puhpuhpuh. And, when she's a puhpuhpuh she gives kisses......... just like a real puhpuhpuh does. Cute, but icky...... LOL

Friday, August 26, 2011

Fundraiser Friday: Honoring Derek L and Bringing Liam Home

This FF post is a little bit different than most. There are no prizes to possibly win for your donation, except the feeling of knowing that you honored a good man's memory and helped a wonderful mom get her little boy home. And isn't that really good enough? We're talking about bringing a little boy from the reality of an institution to the much more awesome reality of a loving family. Specifically a loving mom and four awesome brothers. All the prizes you could possibly win just have to pale in comparison to that.

Derek Loux was an Intercessory missionary at IHOP-KC who was passionate about orphans and adoption. He would have been 39 yesterday and his family has chosen to honor him by helping Amy Lucas and her family bring Liam home.

I'll let you read what his Sister-in-lawTracie, wrote and ask that you consider giving in honor of Derek. It will possibly be the greatest thing you have the opportunity to do today. (All content below copied directly from this blog post, A Birthday Gift for Derek Loux.)

 A Birthday Gift for Derek Loux

Today would have been my brother Derek’s 39th birthday. (Forgive me for dropping the “in-law” part. I’ve always hated that little tag.)
This is the letter that I will place on his grave tonight.
I can’t even believe we are here celebrating another birthday without you. The ache in our hearts seems to just grow. The reality of the space you are no longer here to fill just seems to get deeper. I miss you so much, my brother, my friend.
This year I am incredibly sad that you were not here to met our newest son, Matthias. I hold him sometimes and think of you, knowing that you would  just gobble him to pieces. You’d be so proud of Mattie. He’s a fighter. He’s so strong and courageous. Much like your little Josiah, he’s melting hearts left and right with his killer smile and endearing little expressions. Oh how I wish you could have met him. He’s your kind of guy.
I can’t tell you how many times this year, thoughts of you and remembrances of words spoken, have spurred me on in this journey we’re now on.
You’d be so proud of your brother. He’s laid down so much for his family this year and he’s done it with joy. He’s an amazing Dad. I know if you were here, you’d be cheering him on and taking him out to check on his heart. I wish so much that you were here to do that.
And your wife. Well, you knew it all along, she’s a one of a kind treasure. You don’t need me to tell you that she’s amazing, but I’m telling you anyway. She’s walked this journey so well. Hurting deeply but loving completely, giving passionately, and serving selflessly.
I tell you things you probably already know just because I miss being able to talk to you.
I miss you. Life is just not right without you.
Because I believe that gifts are important as we celebrate birthday’s,  I would like to ask that on behalf of the entire Loux Family, you consider being part of giving Derek an incredible birthday gift today.
I don’t need to tell you that Derek was a fierce champion for justice and was deeply passionate about the church rising up for the cause of the orphan. So today when I asked the Lord to show me how we could GIVE as we celebrate Derek’s life, one family came to mind.
Amy Lucas  is a single Mom to four sons. Amy’s oldest son Jimmy (24) was born with Down syndrome and Amy’s life was changed forever. After Jimmy’s birth, Amy was inspired to become a special education teacher. She is currently a middle school special education teacher, a job that is so rewarding for her. Amy’s next son Ben is 19 and he and Jimmy are very close. When Jimmy turned 18, Amy had the desire to adopt. She had always wanted to have more children and decided now was the time. In 2005, she adopted Caleb 8(then 2 years old) from Russia. Caleb also has Down syndrome and he is the firecracker of the family. He has added so much love and fun to the family, that Amy just had to bring another little one with Ds home. In 2009, Amy adopted Elijah 4 (then 2) from Russia. Raising children with Ds is the best part of Amy’s life. They bring more joy into her life than she could ever have imagined! Even though Amy thought her family was complete, her heart ached for the orphans left behind. And then God spoke to Amy by placing another little boy on her heart, and Amy is more than excited to begin the process again to bring another son home. Although the financial piece of adoption is great, Amy has faith that God will provide.
There is currently $6000 is Ivan’s Adoption Fund. Amy still needs to raise $7500 to be complete this adoption and her dossier has already been mailed and she is waiting on a travel date.
We are asking that you mark each donation “Happy Birthday Derek Loux”- I would love to report to Renee by the end of the day that this entire $7500 was raised in celebration of Derek’s life!
The donate button on her blog with the Reece’s Rainbow symbol allows you to give tax-deductibly, knowing that every penny given will go directly to Ivan’s Adoption Fund.
Please give and help get this sweet little boy home to his family. Give $10, $50, $100, $1000, I don’t really care how much, just give!

CLICK HERE TO GIVE!! (under Ivan’s picture on this link, click the DONATE button)